Read Jeremiah 18.1-11
It is our aim as Christians not to achieve perfection, but receive and spread forgiveness. We are Christians under construction. God is our potter. We are the clay.
There are times when the quest for perfection gets in the way of Christian living. This may seem odd. A contradiction. Obviously, as Christians we want to do our best to follow Christ, who was the perfect example of a life of obedience and goodness. We do strive for perfection and want our lives to be reflections of the good life that Jesus lived. We want to be good, to do our best, to aim for perfection. And yet, it is our aim as Christians not to be perfect, but to be molded and shaped by God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah reminds Israel of this humbling truth when he offers the prophetic image of God as the potter, molding the people. God is the potter, we are the clay. This is a humbling image for those of us who like to be in control, who like to be the potter shaping our own destinies, our own life in faith. Don’t think so highly of yourselves, warns God through Jeremiah. Don’t fool yourself into believing you can turn yourself into the perfect vessel. We are nothing more than cracked pots in need of continual remolding. God is the potter. We are the clay. This humbling thought can be disturbing for those who strive for perfection. What do you mean, clay? What is clay good for? Clay just sort of sits there and lets itself be shaped.
But this image is also a hopeful one. We know that when we get torn down, shoved around, or burned, there is still hope. God is the faithful potter who will not rest until we are made complete. We will not remain broken vessels, but God will build us up, molded and shaped to be instruments of God’s grace and love.
It is our task as Christians not to achieve perfection, but to be perfectly shape to be used for the glory of God. To soften our hearts and minds that God’s truth in Christ can mold and shape us to be obedient and faithful followers. When our quest for perfection gets in the way of our God’s mission, our Potter re-shapes us like clay to become better instruments of grace. If we resist, we risk the pain of being burned, of being molded and shaped against our wills.
As we consider our lives together as a faith community, don’t ask, “How can we achieve perfection?” But instead, “how can we be perfectly shaped by God to fulfill His mission? The love of Christ does not demand perfection, but offers forgiveness. God in Christ loves us for who we are, forgives what we have done or failed to do, and shapes us into a beautiful vessel of grace. For the glory of God.